Sucks. I’ve felt like that after not being able to play alot for long periods. Some that always keeps me inspired on guitar oddly enough is teaching myself another instrument. Right now I spend my evenings moving basic chords around the piano and getting lost in fretless Bass grooves…it’s really unstructured. In the mornings before work I shred on guitar…and seem to carry new ideas forward from the other instruments even though I’m mainly focused on baking in my picking.
Yeah it really sucks, because it’s probably the last time in my life that I have the time to really focus on guitar and I just can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe I’m expecting too much from me and makes guitar not fun anymore.
Yea, I hear that. It’s a scary place but in my experience it’ll pass. I didn’t play much when I had three kiddies in diapers and no one was sleeping. Guitars on the wall taunting me…I was a little ashamed to pick it up and face how rusty I was. Getting back into it (in hindsight) I took an exposure therapy approach - commit to 5 minutes a day…no expectations…just feel the instrument again without pressure. Eventually the calouses came back and I got back on the horse. I feel like I’m 15 again, always distracted by playing.
You say you’re disheartened over you current level… why? Do you believe you should be more advanced? Can you play any music you enjoy?
Has your practice routine failed you?
Do you have short, mid, long term goals?
I want to improve technically, but I just enjoy playing music from my youth of 80s guitar
I cycle through learning songs riffs from my favorite players. I record improves from time to time.
I’m having fun almost every time I pick up the guitar even when I’m doing repetitious stuff.
It has to be fun, or it’s over…
Check out Claus Levin on YT, hell get you thinking right again.
Coming off a long stint of that myself, all I can do is pass on what I’ve learned about burnout in general.
I found that being “the best” and “good” or whatever can often be a trap we fall into, as players we can become focused on nothing but our tools and our skill, forgetting the purpose of those tools and also what attracted us to playing an instrument. I can’t speak for others, but for me it was always the music and the feeling it gives and the enjoyment I get from not only listening but also playing and creating it. There’s also people who love the craft itself, which is why we’re all probably here on this forum and that’s great too.
They key is enjoyment, what is it that you enjoy about the instrument, what attracted you to it, what do you love about it? Maybe reflect on that and you may find what it is you are missing and find that joy again and work to reinforce it in a positive feedback loop.
Don’t beat yourself up mate.
Lots of people have been there. Sometimes the inspiration goes, and it feels weird.
The world is a big place though, don’t worry about it. There are plenty of other things to do for now. Take the pressure off and learn another instrument or read history or play games or whatever gives you a buzz for the moment.
I suspect guitar inspiration will come back at some point. You will hear a solo, or a piece of music, or see a live video, or something will just give you that buzz of, “Yes! I want to work at doing that!”
In the mean time, the one thing I would really recommend from experience, is to see if you can commit to 3 minutes per day. The same exercise every day.
Just a simple practice exercise. Maybe a scale, or some tremolo picking, or anything that gets in the guitar in your hands for three minutes. (No more)
No objective, no pressure, no grand goal, the only purpose is to get plectrum on string for three minutes every day. Treat it like cleaning your teeth. Just something you have to do every day.
It’ll take the mental pressure off and reduce any subconscious guilt you may be feeling about having guitars everywhere and not playing them.
This is something that happens often to me! More specifically, in my case I think it’s a result of having too many goals that are too vague. And of course the general ambition of being “good at guitar”, which is kind of a dangerous mindset because this is a journey with no end!
So, in my very personal experience, things got better whenever I could narrow things down to a very specific task which was not super-ambitious and where I could measure progress objectively / was very clear about what I wanted to do.
For example I don’t consider myself a good songwriter, and “I have to write a song” is an objective that is too vague and overwhelming to me. It makes me stressed and not want to play.
I can work better with something like: “Let’s try to write a 30-second etude that uses picking pattern X plus chord progression Y plus structure AABA”.
I think this is where the main problem lies. I don’t think I should be more advanced. I believe that you get what you put into the instrument and I simply haven’t put enough, with a few exceptions that lasted a couple of months. I know what “advanced” players did to get there and I haven’t done that ever in my life.
That leads to the next problem, which is that I can’t play my favourite genres of music (neoclassical rock/metal, progressive metal) because they’re very advanced for my current level. All that resulted in frustration and thoughts of quitting. I’m 25 years old, not 15. Back then I would be able to see a future in getting deep into it, now it feels like chasing a shadow.
What I really enjoyed since I started thinking actively about guitar was mainly showmanship, absurd technical abilities, catchy melodies and soulful vibrato. Over the years, even though I played in bands and recorded music, I never got to the same excitement level as the time when I saw Yngwie, Gilbert or Gary Moore for the first time. I rarely amazed myself, probably because I’m too self critical.
Thank you for the kind words! I’ll try that 5 minute routine, I hope it sparks some interest for guitar, it feels really weird not wanting to play at all for days/weeks at a time. And you’re right, there is guilt involved, not because of gear, mainly because I thought that I would do this for the rest of my life and now it’s falling apart.
This is one of the main reasons as well. I have to let it rest a bit more and try to have small specific goals for my return. Playing all the time alone in my apartment doesn’t help either to be honest.
When you’re uninspired, the whole thing feels overwhelming. Your Type 2 (conscious) brain hates having big decisions to make.
So you have to take the vague decision making “what shall I play?” thoughts away and just give it something very specific and easy to accomplish. Just a short exercise. Play through it for a few minutes. Sounds good. Done. Do it again tomorrow.
Start associating playing the guitar with a feeling of success again.
Not this huge guilty feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start.
I’ve seen you play and you definitely have some good “moves”. Ok, maybe not “all the moves” of your favourite heroes, but one thing you could try to do is write some licks/ etudes that imitate a song you like, but that are playable with what you currently have.
Or another thing you could try is take a neoclassical song (or part thereof) where you can already play some of the licks, and replace the bits you can’t play with something original, easier for you but equally flashy (and possibly in the same key hehe)!
The truth is that I’m not up to date with CTC terminology, but I’ve seen people play that kind of stuff using different systems. Main example was Andy Wood in his 80s inspired YouTube lesson, where he plays Yngwie patterns without using his systems. I know it’s possible because I’ve seen dozens of people do it on YT/Instagram, but I haven’t found my way yet.
@NCASO I’ve lost focus, that’s for sure. I hope it comes back sooner or later. I don’t want to be the next Yngwie Malmsteen/Paul Gilbert/Richie Kotzen, I just want to have fun playing music that I like. I’ll check Levin soon, thanks for the suggestion.
Like others have already said, a theraphy-like approach: take a tiny and clear goal, then make it even smaller, and then just focus only on that goal for a while. Make yourself proud of achievements, no matter how small they are at first. You can always expand goals later when you feel your power returning.
It happens sometimes. For different reasons. Once I finished musical school I hadn’t been playing piano for two years.
I can’t give you a good advice here. If you would try to force yourself to play, it could make things even worse. Just a small suggestion: don’t play your guitar if you don’t want to, but keep listening to music (and guitar music also). Also watching guitar related youtube videos helps to stay interested in your instrument.
I recently started getting deep into electronic music production, it might help get my mind off for a while. I didn’t want to pursue it further because I felt guilt in relation to guitar, but it might be a good mental break.
Seriously though, give yourself permission to step away from the guitar for a while. Trying to “force” yourself back into it will make it feel like a chore. Try to think less about “what I want to achieve on the guitar” and more about “what’s fun about guitar, and what made me want to start guitar in the first place”. I’m sure there must be things you can already play well that you enjoy playing. When the time is right, those are the things that will draw you to pick up the guitar again.
Unless you’re trying to make a living as a musician, the purpose of the guitar is to make you happy. If it’s not doing that right now, there’s no crime in setting it aside. I don’t experience the kind of guilt you do, but there was a period in my 20s where I didn’t play for maybe a year or two. And my main practice guitar sat on a stand in my apartment that whole time. I saw it every day, I just didn’t pick it up. And it wasn’t mental paralysis, and it wasn’t “I’m done with guitar”, and it wasn’t “I’ll never be good enough”, and it wasn’t “eh, this doesn’t interest me anymore”. It was just “I love you, guitar, but I’ve got too much other shit going on right now. But I’m sure we’ll end up together eventually.”
Being a young kid who feels discouraged and feels like quitting after the first couple of lessons isn’t the same as being an adult who decides “I’m just not feeling this right now.”
Damn this sounds almost identical to what I went through. I barely touched my guitars from March up until June. Whenever I picked it up to practice my band’s new songs, I felt miserable. When I thought about recording our new album, I felt miserable. When I thought about playing in my band again at all, I felt miserable. So I dove into working on a new album for my dark ambient project and really stepped up my mixing game. At the end of May I got asked to play a guest solo on someone else’s album and decided to enter a cover contest. All of a sudden, I was back at it. Recording the guitars for those things involved an INSANE of punching in and a more editing than I care to admit but I got it done and It’s the best-sounding thing I’ve produced. I’m working on my next cover.
I think I’ve had turn off the “guitarist” part of my brain to be comfortable in my own skin. Whenever I step into a mindset of being a “guitar guy” it always leads me into a depressive spiral. So I’m trying a new thing: I’m a musician who happens to use the guitar as a tool. I also sing, play keyboards, teach, record/mix, write songs, produce recordings for others, etc etc. Guitar is just a little slab of it. I’m never gonna be able to be a virtuoso and rip through licks on Instagram and I’ll never be featured on Cracking The Code for my skills, but I like to think I’ve reached a point where I’m OK with being a bit of a hack if it means I can just create music freely with the tools available to me.
I actually have a teacher, with whom I really developed the past 2 years. No matter how good the teacher is, he can’t come home and practice for you. I just haven’t played the past few months. I’ve lost my focus and motivation. Hopefully they’ll come back again.